With Placed, Snap Moves A Bit Closer To Closing The Loop

Snap’s acquisition of location data company Placed, announced Monday, shows the platform is getting serious about attribution.

While Snap has robust location data on its 166 million daily active users, Placed’s ID graph, which collects geodata on a panel of 150 million opted-in mobile devices, broadens those insights to people who don’t use Snap and age out of its core demographic, said Jeremy Sigel, global director of partnerships and emerging media at Essence.

And because Placed measures channels beyond mobile, Snap will gain insights on how its audience behaves across platforms.

“Snap doesn’t have first-party login data that extends across platforms,” Sigel said. “If I were Snap, I’d be thinking cross-device and how do I expand.”

Snap debuted its attribution capabilities with the April rollout of Snap to Store, which attributes footfall in retail locations to ads on its platform. Through Placed’s ability to attribute ad exposure to purchase data on its panels of users, along with its 270-plus proprietary relationships with brands and retailers, Snap presumably will be able to go the extra step in attributing those ads back to purchases.

“The attribution piece is the primary value,” said Chris Cunningham, CRO of proximity data company Unacast. “Snap has a fairly good depiction of where their users are, but that’s one data set, one narrative. The more data you see on how a consumer moves, the more accurate that depiction is.”

Cunningham sees possibilities in Snap matching up its audience data against Placed’s to get a more accurate view of consumer location. But Snap has taken a strict stance on applying its user data to advertising in the past, and the two companies will set parameters around keeping their advertiser data separate.

Down the road, Snap will have to loosen those restrictions to unlock the most value from Placed’s data set, said Noah Mallin, head of social at MEC.

“Snap has positioned around championing privacy, but at some point they’ll have to blend that data together,” he said. “That’s table stakes if they want to compete on the level of Facebook, Twitter and Google.”

And combining that data won’t be easy, both from a technical and perception perspective.

“Snap is probably going to want to go back to their user base and find out: What are the specific data elements they might be uncomfortable with and can they move that around a little bit?” Mallin said.

For now, the potential to perform purchase attribution is a “big plus” that could help Snap attract more direct-response advertisers to its platform, Mallin said. Snap made it clear that it wants direct-response dollars when it rolled out a self-serve solution in January.

“Ultimately, they want to go deep into direct-response and how that impacts store visits and sales, and they need to if they want to increase ad revenue,” he said. “Placed deepens their ability to do that.”

But owning the Placed data set doesn’t make Snap a staple of the media plan quite yet. Mallin would like to see the platform offer marketers the turnkey ability to pull data together from all its ad products to measure attribution.

“Part of that has to be us on the marketing side working with them to do that, but I think that’s where there will be real value, and that’s still kind of nascent,” he said.

Beyond attribution, Snap still has work to do to tie together user data across its different portals, such as Discover, Lenses, filters and Stories, for a holistic picture of consumer engagement on the platform, said Jeff Nicholson, chief media officer at VaynerMedia.

Until Snap can pull together a unified story around its ad product suite, it will remain an add-on buy for advertisers, Mallin said.

“They’re still trying to tell a story that hasn’t really emerged about how all of the different Snap ad products can work together,” Mallin said. “They need to be able to bring that home for advertisers to build Snap into their plans from the outset.”

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